Back to School Tips from SFUSD Superintendent, Dr. Vincent Matthews.

School starts next week: how to help kids prepare

Dr. Matthews’ column “Goodbye summer, hello school year” in the San Francisco Examiner this week provides some timeless tips for getting back into the groove of a new school year. We suggest you read the whole article here, but below is our short and sweet summary.

  • Stay Organized — particularly for Middle School and High School students planners are key. Dr. Matthews recommends that students get and use a planner and that parents spend time going through the planner with students, at least at the beginning of the year as they get used to juggling multiple classes and responsibilities.

  • Set Reasonable Bedtimes — even for teenagers!

  • Pay Special Attention to Teens — families still “play a key role in teens’ success” and shouldn’t be afraid to set boundaries around bedtimes and use of devices.

  • Reboot Your Grocery List (and Sign up for School Meals!) — make a nutritional fresh start and provide kids with healthy options including lots of fruits and vegetables. Resources like the San Francisco Food Bank can help. Many schools provide healthy breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and even sometimes evening meals.

  • Ask Questions — “Let your child talk about what they like and don’t like about school, no matter what it is. You can try to help solve problems together after listening for a while.”

  • Make Sure You Help Your Child Get to School On Time

How does your family get ready for a new school year?

In addition to the great tips from Dr. Matthews, we have heard a few others from parents over the years:

  • Attend school orientation / welcome events

  • Label everything! Jackets, lunch bags, backpacks.

  • For younger children, ensure your child knows how to:

    • Open sealed bags, lunch containers

    • Put a straw in a juice box

    • Put on their own jacket

    • Use crayons, pencils, shoes

    • Ask to go to the bathroom when needed

    • Wash hands on their own

  • In the first weeks of school:

    • Check backpacks regularly for communication from school.

    • Invest in building relationships with teachers and the school community.

What are your tips or “back to school hacks”? Please share in the comments!